Don’t let the cover for Blossoms in Autumn fool you. This is a comic that may masquerade as a sweet, gentle story of two aged people finding a purpose for life in each other, despite their twilight years, but in reality, it’s a brisk, snapping commentary on love between older people. Spiritedly told by Zidrou and beautifully drawn by Aimee de Jongh, Blossoms in Autumn‘s narrative vibe effortlessly reflects its character’s charmingly stark, who-cares-what-the-world-thinks-of-us romance.
Retired trucker Ulysses and cheese-shop owner and former glamour model Mediterranea may be worlds apart in their occupations, yet they share the same path in life. Both of them have been sunken in routine, predictable existences for some years now. A chance meeting between the pair spurs a romantic reinvention of life for the pair, shown in warm, detailed art that captures the crossroads in both of their lives that allows their relationship to form.
There’s a simple story at Blossoms in Autumn‘s heart. Essentially, it’s a series of events charting the blossoming of Ulysses’ and Mediterranea’s romance, nothing more, nothing less. The trick that the comic plays is how its characters rallying against societal expectations of their shared lives ripples throughout the comic so much that that aforementioned feeling of spontaneity forms part of the comic itself. Zidrou’s narrative and dialogue is sharp-witted and jovial. He captures key moments in Ulysees’ and Mediterranea’s fledgling romance in a quickly paced manner, so quick in fact that it’s debatable whether or not he leaves room for contemplation, for his characters thoughts and feelings to truly settle.
Spontaneity is the overarching theme at play here. Such is the unplanned atmosphere of the pair’s romance, that it climaxes into the pair having a child and choosing to move from Lille to Corsica. It’s as if Zidrou is allowing his characters to catch up on the time in their lives they’ve missed out on prior to meeting each other. What does give Blossoms in Autumn a sense of rounded flow is Aimee de Jongh’s exquisite art. Assisted by Michael Doig and Marcia Patricio in colouring the comic, she draws Zidrou’s story with well-worn detail that emphasises Mediterranea and Ulysses’ age.
de Jongh’s art is where the uncompromising nature of Blossoms in Autumn really takes shape. We’ve previously seen how distinctive she is at her work through her own graphic novel The Return of the Honey Buzzard. Here, the art feels purposefully less intense than that previous work. It’s carefree, yet confident. Her earthy, subtle colours lend a sense of lived-in realism to the comic, whilst her taught grip on detailing allows the character’s varied expressions to radiate their playful feelings. The romantic flourishing of Ulysses and Mediterranea is wonderfully emphasised in de Jongh’s beguiling art.
Blossoms in Autumn begins and ends with exclamations of “nine months!”, relating to separate incidents that bookend the comic, yet shared in their frustrations of these events taking so long to occur. The constant battle against the passage of time soars throughout Blossoms in Autumn, with the end result being a fun, flirtatious comic, and a firm celebration of love being an ageless concept.